1:00 PM ET, November 7, 2010
Ford Field, Detroit, MI
Rex Ryan proclaimed his New York Jets the NFL's best team as they went into their bye week. They didn't provide much evidence to back up his words upon their return.
The Jets were shut out for the first time since 2006 in their mistake-filled Week 8 loss, a performance they want no part in replicating as they head to Ford Field to take on the high-scoring Detroit Lions on Sunday.
New York needed a 46-yard pass interference penalty to set up a late touchdown in a 24-20 win at Denver in Week 6, its fifth consecutive victory to leave it as one of three remaining one-loss teams.
Ryan didn't shy away from praising the Jets as they entered a bye week, saying "it's hard to say we're not the best team in the league."
After watching New York fail to score for 60 minutes last Sunday against visiting Green Bay, Ryan wasn't singing the same tune. The Jets (5-2) turned the ball over three times in Packers territory and Nick Folk missed a 37-yard field goal in a 9-0 loss, their first shutout since November 2006.
"We had plenty of opportunities," Ryan said. "We didn't execute very well. ... We were fresher and healthier than we've ever been, we just never got it done."
Mark Sanchez threw two interceptions in windy conditions, the second consecutive game he was picked twice after failing to throw one in his first five contests.
The fifth pick in the 2009 draft won't have to worry about the conditions inside Ford Field, where the lone quarterback selected above him will be looking to build on one of his best games.
Matthew Stafford shook off some first-half rust (8 for 18, 72 yards, one touchdown and an interception) to shine in his first game since separating his shoulder in Week 1. The former No. 1 overall pick threw three second-half TDs to lift the Lions (2-5) to a come-from-behind 37-25 win over Washington.
"(Matthew and I) talk before the game in warmups to get a vibe," said Calvin Johnson, who was named the NFC's offensive player of the week after catching three of Stafford's touchdown passes. "We started off rusty, but I saw what he saw and vice versa and we were able to get the job done.
"We're on the same page -- and getting better all the time."
The Lions have scored an NFC-best 28.2 points per game since Week 2 and have averaged 37.7 in three home games. That's a pace the Jets' brash coach doesn't think they can maintain Sunday.
"I just don't believe that's going to happen," Ryan said. "Come out and prove me wrong, but I doubt it. This is a proud group right here on defense.
"Do you expect to shut out Detroit? Of course not, they've got a very talented team and all that kind of stuff, but this is a great defense coming into town."
Johnson, the No. 2 pick in 2007, will have his hands full against a secondary featuring cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, but the Lions' defense is rapidly improving largely thanks to the second overall pick in this year's draft.
Ndamukong Suh has 6 1/2 sacks -- the most in the NFL among defensive tackles -- and returned a fumble for a touchdown against the Redskins. He's one sack away from tying Tracy Hayworth's team record for a rookie, set in 1992.
"I hate to use superlatives, but he's one of the best in the game," Lions defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch said. "It's hard to argue that. ... Sometimes a defensive tackle will have a really good week and then disappear but Suh continues to be a big-time playmaker for this defense. Like I said, he's only going to get better so the sky's the limit with him."
Detroit has 23 sacks -- three fewer than it had last season.
Aside from getting to Sanchez, though, the Lions might have an even more difficult task -- stopping the run. The Jets have the NFL's third-most productive ground game with an average of 153.4 yards behind LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene.
The battle in the trenches is something Ryan is eagerly anticipating.
"We think we have the best offensive line in football and we're going against a team that really can get after the quarterback, so I think that's going to be a great matchup," he said.
The Jets won the previous two matchups in this series after losing all four meetings from 1991-2000.
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1. Be Sanchez-friendly: Expect the Jets to keep the passing game simple for QB Mark Sanchez to help him get early confidence and get into a rhythm. The Lions' back seven is vulnerable and New York's weapons have one-on-one advantages. This is a very balanced offense, but New York isn't getting much production from its running backs as receivers. The Jets might also start to incorporate Shonn Greene more to better keep LaDainian Tomlinson fresh for the long haul.
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|Avg Points Allowed||16.3||23.5|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||NYJ|
|Rush Yds Allowed||NYJ|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|NY Jets leads 3-0|
|Oct 22, 2006||NYJ 31, DET 24|
|Nov 17, 2002||NYJ 31, @DET 14|